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Paul Krugman: Trump’s Fellow Travelers

Monday, October 3, 2016 10:11
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Trump’s Fellow Travelers, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: Donald Trump has just had an extraordinarily bad week, and Hillary Clinton an extraordinarily good one… But both Mrs. Clinton’s virtues and Mr. Trump’s vices have been obvious all along. How, then, did the race manage to get so close on the eve of the debate?

A lot of the answer, I’ve argued, lies in the behavior of the news media… But let us not let everyone else off the hook. Mr. Trump couldn’t have gotten as far as he has without the support, active or de facto, of many people who understand perfectly well … what his election would mean, but have chosen not to take a stand.

Let’s start with the Republican political establishment, which is supporting Mr. Trump just as if he were a normal presidential nominee…

While almost all Republican officeholders have endorsed Mr. Trump, the same isn’t true of … the G.O.P. intelligentsia…, policy experts, opinion writers, and so on. For the most part,… members of this group haven’t spoken up in support of this year’s Republican nominee. …

But if you think that electing Mr. Trump would be a disaster, shouldn’t you be urging your fellow Americans to vote for his opponent, even if you don’t like her? After all, not voting for Mrs. Clinton — whether you don’t vote at all, or make a purely symbolic vote for a third-party candidate — is, in effect, giving half a vote to Mr. Trump.

To be fair, quite a few conservative intellectuals have accepted that logic, especially among foreign-policy types… But there have also been many who balked at doing the right thing…

And the response from sane Republican economists has been especially disappointing. Only charlatans and cranks have endorsed Mr. Trump, but only a handful have … been willing to say that if keeping him out of the White House is important, you need to vote for Mrs. Clinton.

Finally, it’s dismaying to see the fecklessness of those on the left supporting third-party candidates. … If polls are to be believed, something like a third of young voters intend to, in effect, opt out of this election. If they do, Mr. Trump might yet win.

In fact, the biggest danger from Mr. Trump’s terrible week is that it might encourage complacency and self-indulgence among voters who really, really wouldn’t want to see him in the White House. So remember: Your vote only counts if you cast it in a meaningful way.

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